There is a cascade of reports from Tesla owners in Canada and Alaska about cars equipped with heat pumps that cannot supply cabin heat in extremely cold conditions. InsideEVs says complaints are popping up on Fakebook and Twitter from owners who report dangerously cold conditions amid warnings that the heating system has failed. Here’s what an owner had to say:
Well @elonmusk have some buyers regret. Last February had our Model Y in SC for a month without heat. New Super manifold and thought it was fixed. New set of sensors last week and now this one. -30c in #Saskatchewan and a very cold 1 hour drive later we barely made the supercharger pic.twitter.com/JLJ7Pmzc0P
– Mark Kroeker (@paateach) December 28, 2021
Kroeker adds: “If an #EV or a @Tesla can not fit in the winter, then opponents will see themselves as real, ‘they will not work in extreme climates’. I hear it almost daily. You MUST do better, I’m not the only one having problems. I’ve made an effort to be a @Tesla / #EV fighter living in southeastern Saskatchewan, the heart of the oil and coal district. I’m ridiculed for driving electric car, sometimes harassed. I’m a little confused and considering throwing in the towel, considering selling and returning to ICE. “
Kroeker’s case has been taken up by Tesla owners online, who talked to people at Tesla and found that they were working feverishly to solve the problem. So far, it seems that the problem is not a malfunction of the heat pumps in these cars. Tesla owners online says: “The heat pump system actually has the ability to work really well, even in temperatures colder than -30C, because there are two loops that use compression and expansion of the refrigerant (going from liquid to gas to liquid), and these loops can produce heat “Even in extreme cold. The Alaska team has tested this in super cold and it works well. So basically the heat pump can and will work in our climates.”
There are indications that a recent firmware update may have exacerbated the situation, and Tesla is working hard to resolve the issue. The basic reason seems to be that in extreme cold, the shutter, which is built into the front of the cars under the bumper, can be deactivated by frozen snow and / or ice, which prevents it from closing. This allows “cold air into the system when driving on the highway, which prevents the heat pump system from being able to function properly.” Tesla owners online say.
“The cold air passes a sensor and tells the climate system that it is failing, and then you get the famous fault and the compressor just stops. One of the things they will potentially do with software as a quick win is to let the compressor / system continue to work even if the flap does not work properly. And of course, they’re trying to figure out how to prevent this in the first place. It should be noted that Tech recommended ensuring that the black grille on the front of your car is clean and clear, as snow / ice builds up there can cause the flap not to open / close properly. “
Takeaway on Tesla heaters that do not work in extreme cold
Problems like this are the reason why manufacturers perform extensive tests in cold weather and tests in hot weather. They test in environments with high humidity and high salinity. There are millions of microclimates in the world and cars need to be able to function properly in all of them. The good news here is that the heat pumps themselves do not seem to be the cause of the problem. It’s basically a sensor problem, one that can be solved by Tesla engineers and downloaded over the Internet. Make sure Tesla is aware of the problem and is working to find a solution as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, the best source for news and updates on this topic seems to be Tesla owners online, which does an excellent job of keeping people informed about the problem and the solutions coming from Tesla’s mother ship.
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